Sugar, spice, and everything not nice describes my feelings towards the first four books in The Cupcake Diaries series.
The Cupcake Diaries by Coco Simon follows four middle schoolers who form their own cupcake business to take down the Popular Girls Club, or PGC. In Katie and the Cupcake Cure, Katie starts middle school and is ditched by her best friend for the popular clique. To cope with losing her best friend, Katie and her new lunch table form the Cupcake Club to win a school fundraiser. In Mia in the Mix, new student Mia struggles being friends with some girls in the PGC and maintaining her Cupcake Club friendships. Emma’s story, Emma on Thin Icing, focuses on Emma balancing all her responsibilities to pay for an expensive dress. The fourth story, Alexis and the Perfect Recipe, centers on making cupcakes for a sixteenth birthday and impressing a school crush.
Even though I had some major problems with these first few books, I did enjoy some aspects. One aspect that the author did really well was characterizing each of the girls, especially Emma and Alexis. Every detail in the story reflected each girl’s personality perfectly. However, so much of the story focused on the personality rather than action that each story felt extremely slow even though each book only spanned a little over one hundred pages.
Since the majority of the books focused on each girl’s personality, every ending felt rushed and unsatisfying. In Mia’s book, she has an immediate change of heart and all the drama that built throughout her book ends in one sentence. After Emma struggles throughout her whole book to pay for an expensive dress, the problem is solved for her within the last two pages. When Alexis spends her entire book trying to impress her crush, she (minor spoiler) decides that she doesn’t like him. Even though her goal is to only dance with him at a party, it seems like she only does this to spite the popular girls, which leads me to my next negative for this book.
Another problem that I had with this book was the whole club aspect, especially the Popular Girls Club. The characters in this book are in seventh grade (I believe), so the target audience is probably fourth and fifth grade girls. Whenever I was younger the club idea died out in around third or fourth grade. Any made-up club, especially the Popular Girls Club, seems way to juvenile for middle school and even the book’s target audience. This book was published in 2011, which is quite a few years after I fit in the age range for the target audience. If this would be too juvenile when I was younger, it definitely wouldn’t interest girls now who act more mature than ever.
I found one positive of the PGC within all four of the books. In Mia’s book, we actually get a positive look at the popular clique as she becomes friends with them and finds that she has a lot in common with them. This doesn’t happen to often in many middle grade, or even YA novels. However, within the PGC, several girls fall into the standard popular stereotype. Sydney is the typical rich mean girl and Callie is regarded is regarded as a saint just swept up in the popularity of the PGC (even though she dropped her best friend Katie without warning).
To be honest, if the first four books were not put together in one large book, then I probably would have stopped reading at the beginning of Emma’s story. Even though the cupcake aspect was fun and the characterization was good, I feel like many of the negatives overpowered the positives for me. When I picked up this book, I expected to have fun reading them, but it felt more like a job.
I rate the first four books of The Cupcake Diaries series as two out of five stars.
What is your favorite cupcake flavor?